Stating the obvious isn’t that easy in TV land

A couple of weeks ago, I made a snarky reference to Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, concerning their Washington Post piece with the headline:

Let’s just say it:
The Republicans are the problem.

I was irritated because, to me, it stated the obvious. It’s something a lot of people have known for years, but no advocate of bipartisanship or centrism was ever going to say it. So now that a couple of high powered think tankers were coming to their senses, my first thought was, “They’re writing a book.” Which happened to be the case. My next thought was, “They’re doing this to get on TV to sell their book.”

That wasn’t the result:

It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. As Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum note, these are among the most quoted people in Washington — yet suddenly this latest topic is too hot for the talkers, or not deemed relevant at all.

I ran this thesis by Ornstein himself, and he confirmed that the book’s publicity people had tried to get the authors booked on the Sunday shows, with no success.

“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.’

So there really is an effort to shut down this line of discourse?

If established think tank types who were quoted as a matter of course suddenly shut out from the discourse, what does that say about “free speech” and “the public right to know” that the TV people pretend they defend.

I guess when Rupert Murdoch owns Fox, Comcast owns NBC, Disney owns ABC and Time Warner owns CNN, that leaves CBS, and it doesn’t want to veer from the crowd to explain why our political system is failing.

Mann and Ornstein want to sell books. The networks want to sell ads. The profit motive is obvious.

But for the networks to pretend centrism and both sides do it is a fair assessment of our political reality verges on treason when the destruction of the country will be the result of obstructionism and one side being completely insane.

That’s the story that should be told. There are people out there willing to tell it. But those voices are being intentionally silenced.

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